Sat with Nat

My first time trying hot yoga

fat yoga

So a couple things about me and yoga:

  • All yoga is hot yoga as I always sweat and turn beet red. I actually start sweating as soon as I grab my gear and head to a class.
  • I own 1 top that would be yoga specific and I have to wear a big ole bra to contain my boobs, it shows, I don’t care.
  • I fart in every class. Every. Class. Big Ole Fart. Yup.
  • I’m a yoga tourist, I go to all schools of yoga but I’ve never committed to one style for long.
  • My first yoga class was in a high school gym in Winnipeg in 1998. There was a lesbian couple who drove a VW van that wore “Free Tibet” t-shirts. I felt like a sham with my male partner, Honda CRX and a pub crawl T-shirt.
  • I don’t believe my yoga practice bestows any mystical or health benefits other than the flexibility, strength and balance I’d get from martial arts or other slow moving exercise that use body weight.

So with all that in mind you have to know I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to yoga. I enjoy it a great deal and I know my body enough to modify poses or get to poses however that works for me.

I got a message from the awesome Jessica (who is a regular contributor here, read her latest post “Elusive Badass Cred”) asking if I wanted to try hot yoga at a studio near my place. It was a $5 community class (totally in my budget), nearby and I’d get to go with Jessica, who is this fun sized human with a ton of energy and attitude. I adore her! I was wavering when she said “you can blog about it!”. Ugh. She knows me well. How could I resist a blogging opportunity?

So off I went in my yoga top and sweat pant type shorts. I knew from my partner’s experience to bring a towel and a water bottle. I also knew I needed to drink a whole bottle before class, I’m a generally sweaty person.

I met up with Jessica in the parking lot and we went in. She knew the ropes, like where to ditch shoes and that I’d need to sign a waiver. It was great having a guide.

The woman at the desk, who turned out was our instructor, asked if I’d done hot yoga before. I said ‘no’ she then told me I could modify postures as I needed and to take it easy the first time and that if I felt too hot to simply lay down and not leave the room. “It’s only 99 F in there anyway but Community Classes are more difficult than our beginner class.”

All I could think was that just because I’d never done this kind of yoga before didn’t mean I was a beginner. Oh my poor ego.

As we hung up our bags in the palatial-sized, slate-lined change room I kept thinking. “Shit, this is posh yoga.”

There were signs everywhere reminding folks not to talk in the hot room. Jessica reiterated with me before we went in that we were not to talk. This would be hard for me as I’m quite chatty. We went in to pick our spots. Little black L shaped marks indicated where to place your mat. I was struck by how close they expected us to be. In my classes at local gyms we had several feet of space between us, this was …well…it felt like a cattle corral, packed in tight. I left a space between Jessica and I, I’m sure I could have still touched her if I reached out, we were that close.

I laid back into corpse pose and took several deep breaths. some folks were doing their own warm-up routines, others practicing their ocean sounding breath -ujjayi and there was also someone snoring. Laying there the heat felt nice, like a good day at the beach.

The instructor started with a reminder to focus on breath and breathing and the class began. There were moments of flowing from one pose to the next, some moving in and out of postures, balance poses and some deep stretches. The sweat trickled down my arms and I blotted mt face occasionally with the extra large towel spread out underneath me. I sipped water and modified plank to be from the knees. The instructor moved about the class rarely doing the poses which was confusing as she referred to the front of the room but there was no clear front to me. Sometimes the descriptions of poses were confusing and when I went to look to see what the instructor was doing or the other practitioners I didn’t get a better understanding. Part of that was at any given time about a third of the room was doing their own thing or a modified version of the posture.

At the end of the class my knees were so sweaty I almost wiped out getting up off my mat. I threw a look to Jessica and almost broke the no talking rule. I mean squeaky flesh on hardwood floor seemed pretty hilarious.

I found with the heat I could stretch deeper in pigeon. My lower back had been giving me a lot of trouble before the class and felt much better after. I think hot yoga in the winter would be amazing but as the weather warms up I can do yoga in the heat in the park.

Things I didn’t like, the idea that hot yoga requires wearing as little clothes as possible and those must be posh clothes. Ok it’s a class thing. For sure. It really bugged me. Yoga, from what little I know of the history, was not practiced to make people a lot of money or limited to the wealthy. I think the $5 class is paying lip service to yoga being for everyone. Sure it is, if you have all the “right gear”, but I don’t think the ornate change room sets the right tone. Would I go again with a friend? Sure, I love the company and doing active things with friends. Would I go on my own? Heck no.

13 thoughts on “My first time trying hot yoga

  1. To be fair, I said “I’m going to channel my inner Samantha and tell you it would be a good blogging opportunity”! Thank you for describing me as “fun-sized;” it’s not the adjective I will choose in professional situations but it will now get adopted for all social settings. In fact, I could have used it last night:
    “Who wants to take a turn in net?”
    “Well, I am happy to go in, but I’m fun-sized and therefore not the best choice to cover a lot of net…”

    I wish there was $5 not-hot yoga in London at a time that worked for me (i.e. not during working hours). Like you, I like the heat (when it’s chilly, especially, and when I need a good wring out), but I don’t like the crammed sardine feeling or (at that studio) the no clear instructor spot. Of course, if I wanted these things, I could either practice at home (I’m not awesome at this: I like instruction and being with people) or pay more for a class and choose the type/ intensity/ best mode of instruction for me. But I don’t — I want the cost-savings and have to deal with the context to get the benefits.

    What’s our next adventure going to be?

  2. I can SO relate to the sweating Nat! I have experienced the harsh reality of slipping face first onto the floor in a puddle of my own sweat. I also imagine it setting off a domino-like chain of falling yogis – it is a real fear when you are crammed so close to each other!
    I love that you are so committed to moving your body in ways that are fun and bring you pleasure. So inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

  3. I guess I never understood hot yoga. I won’t be trying it: I don’t even like sauna rms.

    Honestly, I perceive the practice of yoga to be:
    *solo, so that the true mental benefits of yoga are realized.

    I’ve just done some beginner, simple yoga exercises/poses. Yoga will not solve mental illness, etc. But for myself, the simple breathing techniques for relaxation have been helpful for: climbing up long/steep hills by bike (so one does not hyperventilate), falling asleep, etc.

  4. I’ve always wanted to try it! If only I could find a place that offers it….

  5. I’ve seen this comment more than once, that one must have exactly the right clothing to participate in yoga. Who says so? Does the instructor require students to wear expensive yoga pants? What’s wrong with inexpensive workout pants (such as Champion’s)? For regular yoga (not “hot” yoga), what’s wrong with sweat pants, or shorts, and a tee shirt? (I’m completely uninterested in yoga, but if I were going to take it up I would never ever patronize a company that promotes a morally degenerate ideology, by the way.)

    1. It’s really interesting Teresa, it’s never explicitly said about the activity specific clothing but when you look around everyone is wearing the same thing, like an athletic uniform.

      So maybe I’m reading into that? I do find the tops are longer that other athletic wear so that when you twist or bend your midriff/back/belly don’t show.

  6. I just tried hot yoga for the first time yesterday because of a LivingSocial deal in my area. The studio actually says to wear fitted leggings or capris as bare skin can be too slippery to get into the pose properly and safely. I usually wear fitted capris and a long but fitted top for yoga…I guess it’s kind of a “uniform” of sorts, but not really any more than a swimsuit for lap swimming to me. I’m also fat, so the posh yoga clothes aren’t available in my size…I usually wear Old Navy’s activewear & have done just fine 🙂

  7. God I love your slice-of-life posts so much. I don’t think I’ll ever try hot yoga because I’m afraid I might pass out, or worse, projectile vomit in the middle of a unexpectedly “posh” yoga class….. good lord.

Comments are closed.